Joan, aged 69, has macular degeneration and the condition Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), which is a common condition amongst those with sight loss. It causes hallucinations; it is not a mental health problem, but is the result of how the brain reacts to visual loss. After sight loss, the brain does not receive as much information so it fills in the gaps by releasing new pictures, patterns, or old pictures that it has already stored. Hallucinations can appear in different ways; from seeing simple dots or shapes, to elaborate pictures of people, landscapes, and buildings.
Joan started to experience frightening hallucinations, but Henshaws staff were able to provide her with timely information about CBS. Whilst these were scary at first, Joan began to make sketches of the images she saw as it helped her to explain the condition better to her family and friends. It also helped her to reconnect with her passion for drawing, which she had shied away from since the passing of her late husband.
Over time, Joan has turned these sketches into pieces of art, both on canvas and pottery, which show an interesting range of shapes and recurring images which Joan experiences on her sight loss journey. Joan says: “I hope they don’t go away, I look forward to going to bed at night as I never know what I am going to see!”
Joan's exhibition was due to be exhibited at Manchester Mechanics but was cancelled due to Covid19 lockdown.